‘Night Out’ delights hundreds of keiki at Wheeler

| September 19, 2014 | 0 Comments
Photos by Angela Sanders, Fire Inspector, Federal Fire Department Fire inspector Roma Rapoza hands out fire safety information to junior firefighters during “National Night Out 2014” at Wheeler Community Center, Sept. 12.

Fire inspector Roma Rapoza hands out fire safety information to junior firefighters during “National Night Out 2014” at Wheeler Community Center, Sept. 12. (Photo by Angela Sanders, Fire Inspector, Federal Fire Department.)

Jackie M. Young
Contributing Writer
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Free face painting and glitter tattoos. Bouncy houses and bike patrol rodeo courses. Photo ops with McGruff the Crime Dog and Eddie the Eagle, (Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s mascot).

Sound like an E.K. Fernandez carnival or fair? Nope.

It was the Island Palm Communities’ “National Night Out 2014” at Wheeler Community Center, Sept. 12th.
About 600 to 700 were expected to attend the free, two-and-a-half-hour event that featured a screening on the lawn of “The LEGO Movie” at the end.

“Our two daughters, Payton, 5, and Ryleigh, 3, are having a lot of fun here tonight, while also learning about safety,” said mom Christi Catt, 28, whose husband, Staff Sgt. Shane Catt, is newly stationed at Schofield. “We brought the girls here, so they’d be comfortable with law enforcement and safety officials and would know what to do in case of an emergency.”

About 10 safety, emergency or social service agencies had tents or tables set up, and most military and civilian emergency responders were represented: Honolulu Police Department (District 2, Wahiawa), Federal Fire fighters (WAAF), Military Police, U.S. Coast Guard, and the K-9 unit.

 

Fire engineer Matthew Newman adjusts the coat of a junior firefighter during “National Night Out 2014,” Sept. 12.

Fire engineer Matthew Newman adjusts the coat of a junior firefighter during “National Night Out 2014,” Sept. 12. (Photo by Angela Sanders, Federal Fire Department)

Youngsters could dress up as junior firefighters with a fire helmet and coat, and get their photos taken with fire engineer Matthew Newman from the Wheeler station.

“We’re just trying to get children to feel comfortable with us, to designate them as junior firefighters, so they can help their parents out in an emergency,” said Newman. “Fire can be fun, but it’s also dangerous, and sometimes kids don’t realize there can be serious consequences.”

Newman referred to the recent Makakilo brushfire on Aug. 22 that charred over 1,000 acres that was started by two 7-year-old twin brothers playing with a lighter.

Fire inspector and public information officer Angela Sanders also said when they go out to the schools to talk to children, they always emphasize fire safety.

“We tell the kids what number to call, what to do in case they catch on fire (stop, drop, roll),” said Sanders, “and how often to check smoke detectors, things like that.”

Children got a kick out of hearing the police sirens tweet and blare, and they were able to check out the inside of a real police car. The extremely sporty police D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) car also made an appearance, and both kids and their parents crowded around it.

“National Night Out really got started on the mainland 31 years ago as a way of thanking the citizen patrol leaders for their help in preventing crime,” explained police officer Jason Boquer-Wintjen.

 

Fire engineer Matthew Newman, Wheeler Fire Station 14, takes photos with junior firefighters during “National Night Out 2014” at Wheeler Community Center on September 12. Photo by Jackie M. Young.

Fire engineer Matthew Newman, Wheeler Fire Station 14, takes photos with junior firefighters during “National Night Out 2014” at Wheeler Community Center on September 12. (Photo by Jackie M. Young)

“Now it’s become more of a general community outreach effort, with safety demonstrations and youth events to promote safer neighborhoods.”

This year was the fourth for organizing the event for community services manager Sheryl Ferido at IPC, a private property managing partnership between developer Lend Lease and U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

“Island Palm just wants to bring the community together to meet the emergency responders — the firefighters, police, the K-9 unit — to make them more approachable, so people won’t hesitate to call them when needed,” she said.

“We also wanted to hold an event to build positive morale, because, of course, our forces have more serious concerns on their minds,” Ferido added.

 

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Category: Community, Community Relations, Safety

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